BBC News website redesign

Today sees the launch of the redesigned BBC News website. This is the first major part of the BBC website to have implemented our new online design guidelines, known as global visual language. My colleague Steve Herrmann in News has blogged in detail today about the improvements - and I hope you'll like them - but I wanted to reflect on why this moment isn't just important to the News website but to BBC Online as a whole.

This is part of an ongoing process to make BBC Online feel like one coherent service, rather than a disjointed collection of websites, which is greater than the sum of its parts.

Our aim is more than making a website easy on the eye; a good user-experience is essential to making the site easy to use, and most importantly to make it easy to find what you want to look at quickly.

This has been a major engineering project for the Future Media and Technology Division and I believe it's a great example of engineering and design working hand in glove with editorial - a way of working that I talked about at the Media Guardian Changing Media Summit earlier this year. To give an example we have improved the content management system, which will make it easier for journalists to upload their story and add video and pictures to it more quickly and gives them better control of the layout. My colleagues who have worked on this will be revealing some of their thinking in a blog later in the week.

As we infuse the new global design through BBC Online we will also be reflecting the plans laid down in Putting Quality First, the strategic review that is underway across the whole BBC. We will look at each component part of the whole Online service through three lenses; first, the degree to which it delivers our public purposes; second, the degree to which it fits our editorial priorities; and third, like any other BBC service, how it scores in terms of reach, quality, impact and value. As you may have read last week the BBC Trust agreed in principle to our plans in this area.

The News website is one of the fewer web properties we'll focus on in future. We have also set ourselves a target to double external linking and news is a big part of this story. A recent report on paidcontent shows we have a good foundation to build on this as in the UK outside of search engines the BBC is the top site delivering readers to UK commercial newspaper websites through our existing external links. But we can do more still.

In addition we are also introducing to news the results of partnerships with social networks, improving the way users can share and recommend content on other platforms with their friends.

All that remains to say today is enjoy using the News site and do let us know on the various blogs posted, what you think of it. I know you've already been asking a few questions about some of the technical aspects of the design such as the search function and our plans for HTML5 and colleagues are on the case with answering those points already.

Erik Huggers is Director of BBC Future Media & Technology

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